Health insurance counseling event assists with enrollment process

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COLUMBIA - Four local agencies held a health insurance counseling event at two locations Saturday to assist residents with enrolling in health insurance from the marketplace and answer any questions or concerns they had about the process.

Workers from the Central Missouri Area Agency on Aging, Central Missouri Community Action, Family Health Center and Primaris/Knowledge Management Association gathered at Daniel Boone Regional Library in Columbia and First United Methodist Church in Jefferson City from 9:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. to assist with the enrollment process.

Aaron Swaney, an Outreach and Enrollment Specialist with Family Health Center in Columbia, said there were a few things he wanted participants to take from the health insurance counseling event.

"I hope that they get their questions answered, that's the main thing. Some people actually end up selecting and getting enrolled but even somebody doesn't go through the whole enrollment process, we hope that they can always get their questions answered and know what their options are," Swaney said.

Swaney said the main issue for those signing up for insurance through the marketplace is there are a lot of little details and not all of them are really self-evident, such as choosing provider networks and what services within each plan look like.

Brittany Hotmer is a certified application counselor and said there were two ways that the issues facing those signing up for the insurance could be addressed.

"We both encourage legislators to expand Medicaid and, in the meantime, let individuals know the different opportunities that are available."

Sarah Grim works with Welcome Home Inc., an emergency shelter for homeless veterans, and said she attended the counseling event on behalf of her job.

"We are exploring small group employer health care options through the Missouri marketplace and elsewhere," Grim said.

The agencies will continue to offer health insurance counseling events leading up to the deadline. The open enrollment deadline for 2015 is February 15.